Obama Announces Clean Fleets Partnership

On Friday, President Obama announced the creation of the National Clean Fleets Partnership.

The public-private partnership aims to assist large companies in reducing diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations.

AT&T (NYSE: T), FedEx (NYSE: FDX), PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), UPS (NYSE: UPS) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) are the charter members.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide specialized resources, technical expertise, and support under its Vehicle Technology Program’s "Clean Cities" initiative.

These charter members represent five of the nation’s 10 largest national fleets and collectively own and operate more than 275,000 vehicles. Together they plan to employ more than 20,000 advanced technology vehicles in the near term, which is expected to displace 7 million gallons of petroleum annually [editor’s note: why aren’t they buying more?].

DOE is challenging other companies to join this important effort.

In 2008, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. Last Wednesday, President Obama announced a goal of cutting that amount by one-third by 2025. On Friday, he visited a UPS facility in Maryland to announce the new Clean Fleets Partnership.

The initiative is one way the adminstration is trying to jumpstart sales of clean vehicles.

"If you’re a business that needs to transport goods, I’m challenging you to replace your old fleet with a clean energy fleet that’s not only good for your bottom line, but good for our economy, good for our country and good for our planet," he said.

During Friday’s event, UPS’ new Chief Sustainability Officer Scott Wicker guided President Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on a tour of UPS vehicles, including plug-in all-electric and compressed natural gas trucks. Other alternative fuel vehicles in the company’s fleet include hydraulic hybrids, electric hybrids, as well as propane and liquefied natural gas for heavy trucks.

Obama’s Energy Speech

On Wednesday, President Obama delivered a key energy speech calling for greater use of natural gas vehicles and advanced biofuels, and re-committed to oil drilling on and offshore and nuclear energy.

But he made no mention of the epic battle in Congress to remove the EPA’s regulatory authority – it will be voted on this week.

Obama has hinted the Republicans will get at least some of what they’re looking for, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insists the agreement on 2011 spending levels won’t  include any riders affecting the EPA. 

Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the extent to which the president emphasized fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas in his speech on energy.

His "prospects for his re-election efforts" hinge on Obama "getting back to his roots and rediscovering his passion for clean energy," said Brune.

"It wasn’t the gas industry that helped Obama win in Iowa and helped him inspire millions of people around the country," Brune said. "It wasn’t, I don’t recall, activists from Big Oil going around and knocking on doors across the country."

Similar comments were expressed by a range of groups.

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